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Kentucky Dog Bite Laws

Dogs are a regular fixture of Kentucky life, whether they're hanging out at the stables in Lexington, or walking with their owners in downtown Louisville. But dogs also have the capacity to do real damage, and can bite when you least expect it. In Kentucky, dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries their dogs cause by biting others. This means that even the most responsible dog owners, with no reason to believe their dog is vicious, are still liable if the dog unexpectedly snaps at a child's hand and causes an injury.

Any dog that is declared to be dangerous by a Kentucky court must be kept in a location that is secure from other people. Failure to comply with vicious dog regulations can result in fines, jail time, or both.

Comparative Negligence in Kentucky Dog Bite Claims

The state also recognizes comparative negligence when determining ratios of fault among the involved parties. For example, someone who approaches a dog that is snarling or otherwise signaling aggression -- and is promptly bitten -- may be at least partially at fault for using bad judgment. If the court agrees, then his claim will be reduced in proportion to his comparative fault.

Kentucky Dog Bite Laws at a Glance

Additional details about Kentucky's dog bite laws are listed in the table below.


Kentucky Revised Statutes (Title XXI. Agriculture and Animals: Section 258.235

Civil Liability for Dog Bites

Any owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.

Fines, Additional Penalties for Dog Bites

Anyone attacked by a dog (or acting on behalf of someone who was) may file a civil complaint that the owner is harboring a vicious dog, serving the dog owner with a summons to appear at a hearing.

  • If the court finds the dog viciously and without cause attacked a human while off its premises (or the dog owner fails to appear), owner may be subject to a fine of between $50 and $200 and/or between 10 and 60 days in jail (§ 258.990 (3)(b)).
  • Dog may be ordered to be kept securely confined or destroyed.
  • If a dog runs at large or appears in public after being declared "vicious" by the court, any animal control or peace officer may destroy it without facing liability.
Comparative Negligence

In determining the percentages of fault, the court considers both the nature of the conduct of each party at fault and the extent of the causal relation between the conduct and the damages claimed.

Damages are awarded to each claimant in accordance with the respective percentages of fault (§ 411.182).

Regulations for Dogs Declared to be Vicious

Any dog determined to be vicious by a court and allowed to be returned to an owner shall be confined in a locked enclosure at least seven feet high or a locked kennel run with a secured top. The dog may leave the enclosure only to visit the veterinarian or to be turned in to an animal shelter. The dog shall be muzzled if leaving the enclosure for either of these purposes.

Time Limit for Filing a Claim

1 year (§ 413.140 (1)(a))

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Get Legal Help with Your Dog Bite Situation in Kentucky

It's not always easy figuring out what to do when something unexpected, like a dog bite, happens. After getting immediate medical attention, you may want to consider your legal options, including a possible claim against the dog's owner. Get started today by speaking with a local personal injury attorney who can explain how Kentucky dog bite laws apply to your case.

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